Industry welcomes government openness on security strategy

24 Aug 2009 View Comments
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The Home Office has released details of key areas of research for homeland security

New guidance from the Home Office on priority technology research areas for counter-terrorism has been warmly welcomed by the technology and defence industry.

Earlier this month the government released a call to industry and academia highlighting priority areas for research and development.

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Priority areas include protecting public spaces, guarding national infrastructure, countering cyber operations, and improving the analytical software tools of the security services.

And key technologies include knowledge management, screening, biometrics, physical protection and countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

A document put out by consultants Andeman Advisory Services welcomed the new clarity.

"This is a vital first step in making national security and resilience more cohesive both organisationally but also to facilitate participation from outside the government, in particular from industry," it says.

Many firms have been lobbying the government for years to provide a clear direction on where they should invest R&D money in this area.

The government has previously been wary of giving too much information to the private sector but now wants to ensure that technological innovation in its prevention strategy develops apace.

Counter-terrorism spending will increase from £2.5bn this year to £3.5bn in 2010/11 as traditional defence spending faces heavy cuts, leading companies such as BAE and Qinetiq to increasingly focus their efforts on homeland security.

Mike Shaw, head of the national security business at UK defence contractor Thales, told the Financial Times that he welcomed the new transparency.

"This means companies can begin to understand where they can fit in and where they should be investing," he said.

"There has been real progress in forcing people to talk more effectively to each other."

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